• Germany's news in English

Anti-terror laws extended for four years

The Local · 29 Jun 2011, 17:13

Published: 29 Jun 2011 17:13 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

After an internal battle lasting months between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their junior coalition partners the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the two sides have reached a compromise to extend the laws for another four years, though with changes.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger announced the compromise on Wednesday.

The laws were originally passed by the former Social Democratic-Green coalition government following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. They gave security forces greater powers to access data such as flight information from airlines and the movement of money between bank accounts of terrorism suspects. The existing regulations expire in January next year.

The two ministers had been battling over whether and how to extend the laws. Friedrich, of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, wanted to keep the laws in place and even strengthen them in some respects.

The FDP's Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, whose party touts civil liberties, resisted their extension.

Under the compromise, the laws would be applied for the next four years “as far as they are necessary,” Friedrich said.

Some will be strengthened. For example anti-terrorism authorities will in future be able to gather information about flights and bank accounts from central points, where previously they had to collect the data from individual airlines and banks.

Other laws will be scrapped, including those that give authorities the power to obtain information about mail and post office boxes. So-called “mini-eavesdropping,” whereby officers place microphones on their own bodies for self-protection, will be dropped. Friedrich said this had not been used by intelligence officers anyway.

Friedrich lost his battle to give security services the power to open suspects’ bank safety deposit boxes. He also failed to put in place fines for airlines that refused to hand over data. He acknowledged he had backed down on those issues.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger acknowledged authorities needed special powers to combat terrorism, but stressed nothing would be rubber-stamped. She said the criteria for authorities to obtain private data had been tightened.

The vexed issue of data retention, whereby phone and internet companies are compelled to keep data on their customers calls and website visits for a certain period, is still being debated.

Story continues below…

German Police Union (DPolG) boss Rainer Wendt welcomed the announcement as “a great result for security policy.

But the socialist opposition party The Left was sharply critical of the laws’ extension, saying they infringed on citizens' most basic rights.

DAPD/DPA/The Local

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

08:59 June 30, 2011 by freechoice
Maybe they could extend this laws to include tax evaders who transfer their taxable income to foreign banks too?
10:23 June 30, 2011 by trash head
Cyberich I. wet dreams came true
Today's headlines
This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd